Using steel pipe as a drapery rod

naturepersonMay 30, 2009

Have any of you used a steel pipe as a curtain rod before? I have a large window (approx. 101" wide and floor length) that I need to put curtains on. I plan to use canvas drop cloths with the ring clips. Trying to save money, I thought a steel pipe or something similar might be an option. PVC pipe would be too flimsy for the large window and heavy weight fabric.

Do you have any pictures or ideas that you could share? Also, if I cannot get the pipe in a dark color (black), could I spray paint it, or would it scratch as I move the ring clips along the painted rod?

Thanks for any help you can give me.

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I haven't but was tempted to suggest it to someone else wanting curtain rod ideas. I see no reason why you wouldn't be able to paint it, but would suggest you probably use a metal primer first to help prevent chipping. I also think copper piping would look really great too!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 1:55PM
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I've done this for the window above my kitchen sink, and it looks great! The valance hangs between two cabinets so I don't need a finished end; I have it supported by closet-rod end supports that have been painted to match the cabinets. I used a textured-finish black spray paint. There are clips but I don't pull them back and forth so I couldn't comment on the chip factor. It's been at least 5 years now, maybe more, and it still looks brand new.

I've also hung a steel pipe to hold the curtain on my sliding door. It is unfinished as it hangs under a valance. It works for us but I would want a finial on the end if it was not hidden.

Sorry, I'm unable to post a photo just now.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 2:11PM
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I've always wanted to do that with copper pipe! Aging it as well. I think it's a great idea and am sure it must have been done by some of the DIY shows. Have you googled for tips?

Love the canvas idea, too. I find simple curtains like that very refreshing and relaxing. I think they're quite stylish too.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 2:20PM
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Here is a photo from the blog Urban Grace.

Here is a link that might be useful: Urban Grace - Plumbing Parts as Curtain Rod

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 2:22PM
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With that in mind, think of the damage repairs that you will need to make to the structure if you use steel on a sheetrock wall which you might need to replace.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 2:26PM
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At that length, a 1/2" rod will not hold the weight without a lot of support. The rods are hollow and tend to bend. Go bigger than 1/2" and you get a lot of pipe weight.

I've used copper but only on 48" windows.

I made some rods for my family room sliders and I used wooden closet rods. They came in 10 foot lengths that I cut down to size. They work well with the weight of the canvas curtains. And, if memory serves, it was actually less expensive than pipe of similar width.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 2:38PM
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I used electrical conduit for my enormous 6 1/2'x12' windows. I spray painted them with a hammered metallic spray paint, then waxed them so the rings would slide.

Ignore the green table cover. I sewed it like a fitted sheet for card nights. I do have a lovely mahogany table under the hideously colored velveteen cover.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 3:02PM
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Maybe start by checking with the guys on one of the building forums, to gauge the size and weight of the pipe needed and to see how many supports you'd have to place along the studs, which are usually every 16"-18". I'm not sure just how heavy a hollow pipe gets, compared to traditional rods that do not bend.

Canvas is heavy too. Are these going to draw closed?

I also love those natural bamboo rods, though don't know how expensive they are. Maybe they're sold as material for other purposes, too, rather than just as prefab drapery rods.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 3:05PM
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Here are the instructions I saved when I wanted to do the same on my porch. I never tried it.

Here is a link that might be useful: Curtain Rods

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 3:51PM
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Speaking of using steel pipe, copper, etc as curtain rods.....
Is there anything solid and stable enough where a person wouldn't need a center support going across a large patio slider door?
Having many windows with very wide spans, I'll be following this topic closely.
Thank you!

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 4:07PM
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We do use it for jobs that can't use a center support. One inch is strong enough to go over french doors with just the end supports. However, you have to put those supports into a stud, certainly not just hollow wall anchors. There is some weight, and using the right brackets and screws is very important.
We buy the pipe through a machine shop in town to save shipping costs! The pipe and the brackets and rings are taken to the local powder coating shop to finish. Steel pipe will rust and the powder coat is permanent. I'm sure you can paint, but this works better for us (our shop). Many of these rods have been for use on sunrooms (many sliding doors).

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 4:38PM
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Metal conduit would be preferable to iron plumbing pipe, and cheaper than rigid copper. 1" conduit would have no problem spanning the 101 inches. I believe it comes in ten-foot lengths.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 5:32PM
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OMG! Thank you so much for all the very helpful responses. The links are very informative too. My DH says he will probably be using the conduit and doesn't expect to have a problem.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 8:27PM
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Great thread! Thanks, also, for all the great info and bringing this subject up.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 8:40PM
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I had a friend fabricate a 16 ft. piece of aluminum for me for my draperies. It is 1 3/4 inch in diameter. He made simple finials and welded them on. We then had it powder coated with a brown/black mottled finish. I found matching clip rings in a dark brown color at Target. There are no scratches at all from sliding the rings. But I don't know if just spray painting will be as durable. I definately needed a center support and there is no sagging at all.

    Bookmark   May 30, 2009 at 10:10PM
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